Looking for an Artist Management company but don’t know who to talk to or how to get noticed? Who better than the professionals to explain the ins and outs of artist management. I ask Scott McCusker the founder of Cyber Groove and he gives some surprising answers and advice on the matter.
State Of Mind
Before we get into it, what exactly is Artist Management? What do you do? What can an artist expect?
Thank you for the introduction Kilma, and hope I can provide your reading audience with some sort of value.
With this question it is better just to introduce all the different roles that work with artists to fulfill their end goals. There are managers, agents, and then Public Relations / Press people.
A manager works with an artist to present them with opportunities in order to organically build a fan base with them so their career can flourish. Managers also review all in coming booking opportunities from Agents to make sure it is a good fit for the artist, and they will also review all other business dealings such as contract negotiations.
Agents facilitate the bookings for a given artist using their existing demand. Also an agent will present that artist to promoters and talent buyers in the attempt to get shows even if they are not known in that given area.
Public Relations and Press people publicize all of these opportunities, and bookings so more fans and connections can be created.
If an artist has all of these people on board and has actual talent and everyone does the work they aren’t guaranteed a successful career but they should do pretty damn good.
I am both an agent and a manager, although I do not manage and act as an agent for the same artists. This would not be in their best interest.
Within my primary role of an agent I work with promoters mainly throughout North America and put artists onto shows. In the management role I set up short term goals with my artists and we work together to achieve them. The goal is to build as many fans and connections as possible so we can transition them from our management to our agency or shop them to a more suited agency if we do not line up with their career path.
In general, getting a manager or an agent, an artist can expect a lot of work. I become a member of a team when I work with artists. I don’t carry the weight of everything, this isn’t realistic. If an artist lives in the studio when he isn’t popular then he will remain this way. All you need is 1,000 loyal fans and you have yourself a career. However, engagement is the way to capture these people so you must be out there. The music is important but when you hit play, who is listening?
- If you have artist representation the tours will start rolling in:
Obtaining a manager or an agent does not mean that you will start to get shows right off the bat. Getting shows is based on the demand a given artist has and how many asses you can put in seats. Will getting an agent help? Yea sure since the promoters we work with usually trust us so when we speak a new name to them, they will listen. If it is a local agency to you then the chances for more local shows are pretty much guaranteed, but I am referring to regional or national touring placement.
Having a top chart tunes helps you land more bookings:
Top charting tunes do matter, but more so just to validate your abilities. This is where your manager or PR people come in. They will be able to take this and shop your tunes onto larger labels or work out collaborations with established artists and then that’s really when things start to happen because naturally your reach will be larger therefore more fans will be in existence. Also promoters who can market effectively can present you in a better light since you have become marketable.
- If you get signed to a big label, artist management companies are jumping for the opportunity to represent you:
This used to be the case, all of us industry folk used to find artists using the Beatport Top 10. We would bring artists on and work with them and that was great while it existed. Then all of a sudden it didn’t matter anymore since the system was a bit flawed. Now you can’t tell what’s what anymore. For promotional use though, it is great.
- You don’t need a strong online presences to get quality gigs. (Social Media isn’t that important.)
Social media is important however, it goes back to fans and demand. If your social media follows and likes are paid for then those likes or follows from China or India isn’t going to help you. Social media is so you can be social with your following. What you should be doing is engaging them and bring them all off line (ie. Email list / Blog). Still to this day, promoters do look at these numbers and I do have artists who get passed up because of artists who have these inflated numbers. An artist shouldn’t want to work with that kind of promoter right?
- If you are really talented someone will discover you. Ie: Artist, Promoters, Labels, Management Companies
If you are super talented in time you will be noticed because heat rises right? However this goes back to the artist who just sits in the studio, if no work is being done on the brand or to capture fans then even the most connected agent or manager won’t have much to use in order to get you out there. So for those artists who are super talented and just don’t have any business experience I am sure you can find someone to help you. If your music moves people, finding help is just a question away.
What are some other misconceptions?
There are really no misconceptions, just people who don’t know the roles well enough to know how to split up the work or responsibilities. I get artists who tell me I don’t promote their releases enough. I have to remind them I am their agent so they should look into getting a person in PR. We promote our artists since all content of our artists will help in the booking process but outside of Facebook, Twitter, and our mailing lists there we just can’t help with. Then I have artists who want to get into other areas of this business and they come to me on why this isn’t happening. I suggest for them to get a manager. An agent does one thing, get an artist gigs. Gigs now of days will be the most consistent source of income an artist can get.
What are your pet peeves working in this scene? (Promoters with no response/refusal or contacts/deposits.
Pet peeves, oh Kilma, don’t get me started. In this business there is a 10% response rate and that is after the 4th follow up. So yea that is probably the big one. In my eyes, it is rude not to respond to people who spent the time to generate an email to you, or pick up the phone. My advice to those who ignore emails and phone calls is to “Grow a Pair”. Say “No, Thank You”. If that is your answer I am able to move on to the next person who may want to work with me. The second is the question, “How Much?” Stay tuned for the guide I wrote up about this whole topic, I’ll share it with you once I am done with the design.
Before we move into advice you have for artists, tell us a bit about Cyber Groove. What you offer that is unique from others companies and how you continue to stand apart.
Cyber Groove deals primarily within bass music (Drum and Bass, Dubstep, Electro). We dabble in house as well pretty much if it’s a great sound and it moves me emotionally and appeals to my promoter public we can work with it. We have been around since October 2000 starting out as a NYC promoter company. After we got over the promotional bug, we went into the agency game.
How I believe we are different from other agencies is the quality control on all sides of our business. We get back in touch within 24hrs, we give every promoter at all levels an opportunity to work with us, we represent great positive people (I have a unwritten no s**t head clause on my artist agreement) that are extremely talented. Most important we work with promoters to ensure that every step of the process is on point and that their shows are successful. We are authentic and we do what is right. Not everything is about making the quick buck, we are not in the business to put promoters out of business.
Back story: When I was looking for representation what made you decide I was the right fit for Cyber Groove AM?
Kilma, you appealed to us because you are marketable, talented, and persistent. I like artists with a hustle to them since that is a key trait of a successful artist. Those who sit back and wait for things that happen usually don’t make it.
What advice do you have for artists looking for representation? How can they put themselves on your radar?
Do your ground work and start to build yourself up locally. It is better to approach an agency when you have something to show. If you have a number of tunes signed to mid-level labels then maybe it is time to reach out to a manager or a PR person to see about building up your name in your area. With this you will most likely get bookings and you can take it from there. If you can do it in one city, the chances of bleeding over into other scenes should be easy. Once you can take on a region, then it might be agency time. Agencies really don’t look out for artists all the time; they usually fall into our laps. Artists do this by having someone we know directly get in touch with us about that artist, or they just get in touch with us directly.
Where do you see Cyber Groove in a year from today? 5 years?
I would say in a year, we should have our agency pretty well sorted with an active touring schedule for a majority of our artists. Our management roster should also be pretty strong as well. In this business you have to take it, day by day, so I can’t even forecast accurately. Watch our journey!
Keep in touch with us! Get on our Facebook (http://www.Facebook.com/cybergrooveprod), Twitter (@cybergroove), website (http://www.CyberGrooveAM.com), and our blog (http://cybergrooveprod.wordpress.com). We will also be forming a Podcast soon enough and the home for that will be http://www.CyberGrooveRadio.com. Thank you Kilma for giving us a place to spread our message #BeSimple